PNC Bank Review: Options for Saving, Investing and More

Explore PNC Bank's product lineup before you open an account.

In 1983, two Pennsylvania banks, Pittsburgh National Corp. and Provident National Corp., merged to become PNC Financial Corp. The financial institution ballooned in growth throughout the 1990s and gained a national reach. Today, PNC Bank is a dominating full-service financial institution with locations in much of the U.S.

Here’s what you’ll find in this PNC Bank review:

Who Is PNC Best For?

Before opening a bank account with PNC, consider your expectations for a bank as well as your financial needs and goals. Here are some of the pros and cons of banking with PNC:

Pros and Cons of PNC Bank
ProsCons
High-yield savings account with a 2.00% annual percentage yieldNot as many physical branches as some brick-and-mortar banks
Variety of money management toolsCertain interest-bearing accounts feature low APYs
Many options to waive account feesChecking accounts typically have monthly service fees

See the Steps: How To Open a PNC Bank Account

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Who May Want To Skip PNC?

While PNC is more of a traditional brick-and-mortar bank, it still does not have a tremendous physical branch presence across the U.S. For example, PNC currently does not have any physical branches in the West, including California. It is present in the South, mid-Atlantic and Midwest, however.

If you like in-person, traditional banking and do not live in the aforementioned regions, you may want to skip PNC.

Ultimately, location is not everything, and there’s more to consider when deciding who PNC is best and worst for. Here’s a quick glance at who PNC is suitable for, and who might want to explore other banking options:

Who Is PNC Best For and Worst For?
Best ForWorst For
Customers who are interested in linking multiple bank accountsPeople who want high interest rates for their non-Virtual Wallet checking accounts
Clients who prefer in-person customer service and are located near brick-and-mortar branchesThose who overdraw frequently; a $36 fee is charged per overdraft, up to four times per day

Check Out: Can You Trust Your Bank? 5 Key Things To Look For

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Types of Accounts Available

When considering if you want to open an account with PNC, you’ll want to make note of the APY rates and fees associated with the accounts you’re interested in because they will have the most effect on your balance. Consider your specific banking process and your account balances before you decide what is right for you. It’s also important to find the account features that fit your money the best.

Here’s a look at some of the account options PNC offers:

PNC Bank Checking, Savings and Money Market Accounts
Account TypeFeaturesMonthly Service FeesRates
CheckingPNC Purchase Payback is a way to earn rewards on your purchasesPerformance Select Checking: $25

Performance Checking: $15

Standard Checking: $7

Performance Select Checking: 0.01% APY

Performance Checking: 0.01% APY

Standard Checking: No interest

Standard SavingsOffers a PNC Banking card and an option for automatic transfers from PNC checking account$50.01% APY
PNC High Yield SavingsNo minimum opening deposit; $1 minimum balance to earn interestNone2.00% APY
‘S’ is for SavingsMoney-related, kid-friendly tips and resources using “Sesame Street” charactersNo monthly fee if the account holder is younger than 18 years old0.01% APY
Premiere Money MarketUnlimited deposits; option for automatic transfers from PNC checking account$12Standard rate grows with account balance; standard APY of 0.02% on balances of $10,000 to $24,999.99

See: 13 Banking Fees You Should Never Pay

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Checking Accounts

There are three PNC checking account options that you can open without an account package. In addition, PNC offers several tiers of Virtual Wallet, including the basic and student versions, Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend and Virtual Wallet with Performance Select. With each version, customers get a primary checking account, an interest-bearing checking account and a long-term savings account. The Virtual Wallet options offer an array of tools to help you manage your funds — but they may not be for you if you don’t like digital banking.

If you only want to set up a checking account, you’ll want to learn about PNC’s offerings that are available outside of the Virtual Wallet lineup. Here’s an overview of what PNC’s stand-alone checking accounts have to offer.

Standard Checking

PNC’s Standard Checking is perfect for customers who want a basic, traditional checking account.

Features:

  • Access to recurring, free bill payments
  • Option to avoid monthly fees by keeping a minimum balance of $500

Pros: 

  • Ability to earn a higher interest rate on your savings if you link this account to a Standard Savings account
  • Unlimited check-writing privileges

Cons:

  • Limited amount of free non-PNC Bank ATM transactions

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Performance Checking

If you can maintain an average monthly balance of at least $2,000, Performance Checking could be worth your consideration. 

Features:

  • Unlimited check-writing privileges
  • Account earns interest with minimum balance of $2,000 or more 

Pros:

  • Eligibility for higher relationship rates when linked to Premiere Money Market or Standard Savings account
  • Low minimum balance requirement to earn interest

Cons:

  • $15 monthly service charge if your account dips below $2,000 and you don’t meet any other requirements to waive the fee

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Performance Select Checking

Performance Select Checking is an option for customers who can maintain a combined average monthly balance of at least $5,000.

Features:

  • Reimbursed fee charges for non-PNC ATMs
  • Monthly fee is waived if you maintain a minimum combined average monthly balance of $5,000 in this account and up to eight eligible linked accounts
  • $25 minimum opening deposit

Pros:

Cons:

  • 0.01% APY

Also See: Best Banks of 2020

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Savings Accounts

PNC Bank offers three savings accounts that you can open without getting a Virtual Wallet account package. One option is a “Sesame Street”-themed savings account for kids. Other options are Standard Savings and PNC High Yield Savings accounts for adults. Here’s what you need to know about each account. 

Standard Savings

PNC’s Standard Savings account is for customers who are looking for a simple savings account experience with an option to set up a recurring, automatic savings transfer.

Features:

  • Earn higher relationship rates when you link a select PNC checking account 
  • Offers a PNC Banking card
  • $25 minimum opening deposit

Pros:

  • Option to set up recurring, automatic transfers from your PNC checking account into your savings 
  • Overdraft protection if savings account is linked to a PNC checking account

Cons:

  • Higher balances required for higher relationship rate

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PNC High Yield Savings

PNC High Yield Savings is perfect for customers who are looking for high-interest yields with their account balances.

Features:

  • 2.00% APY
  • Account can be opened with any dollar amount

Pros:

  • No monthly service charge
  • Low minimum balance of just $1 to earn interest

Cons:

  • $25 fee for closing account within 180 days of opening
  • Not available in all markets

Find Out: The Facts on High-Yield Savings Accounts

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‘S’ is for Savings

This is a great account for parents who want to teach their children about money and savings.

Features:

  • Financial learning center featuring tips from “Sesame Street” 
  • Account balance starts earning interest at $1

Pros:

  • No fees if the account holder is under 18
  • Account feature allows user to set savings goals

Cons:

  • $25 minimum opening deposit might be high for some young savers

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Money Market Account

PNC’s Premiere Money Market account offers customers a great way to earn interest at higher relationship rates and the ability to make unlimited deposits.

Features:

  • Higher relationship rates are available for eligible customers with a qualifying PNC checking account
  • $100 minimum opening deposit

Pros:

  • Interest rate grows along with the growth of your account balance
  • Auto-transfer option to help build savings

Cons:

  • Minimum average monthly balance of $5,000 to avoid monthly service fee
  • Highest APY rate only available if you have a balance of at least $100,000 and a Performance Select Checking account

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Certificates of Deposit

If you don’t need constant access to your money, consider a CD to help grow your funds. PNC offers a variety of CD options, including Ready Access CDs, Stepped Rate CDs and fixed-rate, callable and variable-rate options.

Features:

  • Fixed-rate CD: Way to earn money through interest with minimal risk because the rate is set at the opening deposit
  • Ready Access CD: Comes with a fixed rate; ability to access funds after the first seven days
  • Callable CD: Above-market rates; can be called by PNC after the first 12 months or 24 months, depending on CD term
  • Variable-rate CD: Rate of CD changes quarterly; tied to three-month Treasury bill
  • Stepped Rate CD: A 36-month CD with a rate increase every six months; funds can be accessed within a 10-day window following every six-month period

Pros:

  • Ability to earn higher rates than any PNC savings account or money market account
  • Ability to put IRA CD in a tax-deferred account to supplement retirement savings

Cons:

  • Money usually cannot be accessed without penalty; depending on the type of CD, early withdrawal penalties are applicable within certain term limits or before full maturity of the CD

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Individual Retirement Accounts

PNC offers both Roth and traditional IRAs. Consider the features of both before deciding which one is best for you.

Features:

  • Traditional IRA: Invest pretax income and then pay taxes when you withdraw money during retirement
  • Roth IRA: Invest after-tax income and then withdraw your tax-free money during retirement

Pros and Cons: The pros and cons of PNC’s IRA options depend on how you want to be taxed on your retirement fund and when you want to access your money.

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Investment (Nonbank) Options

Think about how you want to invest your money and the guidance you may need. Do you want more hands-on advice from a PNC Investments financial advisor or something more customized? Are you looking for short-term or long-term investments? What are your overall investment goals?

PNC offers a variety of investment options to help you meet your specific needs. Here’s a look at what’s available in its lineup of investment products.

Features:

  • Brokerage accounts: Invest in mutual funds, stocks, bonds and exchange-traded funds
  • Advisor-managed accounts: A “set it and forget it” option; accounts are managed by an investment advisor who helps you realize your investment goals
  • Stocks, bonds and funds: Help you create and run a diverse portfolio
  • Education accounts:
    • 529 plan: Tax-deferred investment opportunity sponsored by states or state agencies
    • Custodial account: Way to save and invest in your child’s or grandchild’s education; unlimited contributions are permitted

Pros and Cons: The pros and cons of PNC’s investment products depend on your goals and how you like to invest. Speak to a PNC financial advisor to see what is best for you.

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Loans

Are you buying a home or going to college? Do you want to remortgage or start a big project and need a line of credit? Consider PNC’s loan options to see what may be best for you.

Features

Here’s an overview of some of the main features of the loans PNC offers.

Mortgage Loans and Mortgage Refinancing:

  • Fixed-rate mortgage: Offers consistent rate for the whole term of the loan
  • Adjustable-rate mortgage: Rate adjusts periodically
  • Jumbo loans: Available for amounts above $510,400
  • Federal Housing Administration loans: Government loan program that can be more flexible when granting you the loan
  • Veterans Affairs loans: Option for veterans, active military, reservists and National Guard members
  • Specialized loans: For special home financing situations that do not meet the criteria of other loans offered

Home Equity Loans and Lines of Credit:

  • Fixed-rate options offer a consistent rate throughout term
  • Variable-rate options are available; rate will vary throughout term

Auto Loans:

  • Buy from a dealer
  • Buy from a private party
  • Buy out a lease

Personal Loans and Lines of Credit:

  • Personal loans come with a consistent, fixed rate throughout the loan term
  • Personal lines of credit come with a variable rate

Student Loans and Student Loan Refinancing:

  • Undergraduate loans for students enrolled in a degree or certificate program
  • Loans for graduate or professional students enrolled in a degree or certificate program
  • Education refinancing for those who want to combine multiple student loans into one payment

Pros and Cons: The pros and cons of PNC’s loans depend on your financial needs and life goals. Loan rates will vary depending on the term and amount. Figure out what works best for you, and then speak to a PNC financial advisor.

Related: How To Make a PNC Mortgage Payment

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How To Bank With PNC

Today, banking doesn’t mean you only have the option of visiting a local branch. You can bank with PNC in three ways:

Technology

The most modern way to bank with PNC is digitally. Consider these online options:

  • Log in to online banking and visit the Secure Message Center to reach out for assistance via email
  • Download PNC’s mobile app, which is available on the App Store and Google Play
  • Tweet @PNCBank_Help

Forecast: 8 New Banking Technologies You’ll See in the Next 5 Years

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Fees

Like many other financial institutions, PNC Bank has plenty of fees. But the good news is that most accounts have at least one option to avoid these charges.

Checking Accounts:

  • Performance Select Checking: $25 monthly service fee waived with $5,000 combined average monthly balance in PNC Bank checking accounts
  • Performance Checking: $15 monthly service fee waived with $2,000 account balance, $10,000 combined average monthly balance in PNC deposit accounts, or $2,000 in qualifying direct deposits
  • Standard Checking: $7 monthly service fee waived with $500 account balance or $500 in qualifying direct deposits

Money Market Account:

  • Premiere Money Market: $12 monthly service fee waived with $5,000 balance

Savings Accounts:

  • Standard Savings: $5 monthly service fee waived if you have a $300 balance, set up a $25 minimum auto savings transfer from a PNC checking account, or are under 18 years old
  • ‘S’ is for Savings: $5 monthly service fee waived if you are under 18 years old, have a balance of $300 in this account, or set up a $25 minimum auto savings transfer from a PNC checking account

Learn More: Here’s Your PNC Routing Number

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Availability of Funds

Depending on the type of deposit and the amount you deposit, your funds can be available the same day or within two business days. The initial $100 of any type of deposit you make will be available the evening of your deposit. If you make a large-dollar deposit of $50,000 or more in checks, your funds will be available in full on the second business day after the day you make the deposit.

Funds from these types of deposits are available the same day if they are received before 10 p.m. Eastern time on a business day:

  • Cash deposits made at PNC ATMs or to a PNC Bank teller
  • Checks or money orders made at PNC
  • Wire transfers
  • Online transfers
  • Zelle or other digital deposits
  • Check deposits made via mobile phone and approved using PNC Express Funds

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Is PNC Bank Worth Your Time?

When deciding on whether PNC is for you, review your banking habits and funds to see if they align with what the bank offers. As with other financial institutions, banking with PNC has its pros and cons, including the following:

Benefits:

  • Brick-and-mortar branches are available
  • Ability to waive account fees
  • In-person customer service

Drawbacks:

  • Almost every account has a monthly service fee
  • No unique IRA options

Ultimately, PNC is not a unique enough bank to make it stand out among its brick-and-mortar competitors. It also does not compete with online financial institutions, even with its Virtual Wallet account options. You may want to consider banking with PNC, however, if it is located nearby and convenient for you.

Also Check Out: Best Bank Promotions and Bonuses Available Now

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More on PNC Bank

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Rates are subject to change. All other information on accounts is accurate as of Nov. 19, 2019.

This content is not provided by PNC Bank. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by PNC Bank.

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About the Author

Jared Nigro is from Pittsburgh, which is obvious by the way he gravitates toward cheese at parties. He is a comedy writer from The Groundlings Sunday Company, Upright Citizens Brigade and has his own digital show on Comedy Central called “Broken People.” When he isn’t being funny, he’s reading books on debt and finance and listening to his favorite finance podcast, ChooseFI.